Dec 15, 2010, 4:51 PM
Post #1 of 4
I left Xico, Veracruz on Monday after dumping my holding tanks in the sewer grate and filling up with water from the park. On my way past Xalapa to Veracruz City, I tried to stop at "El Lencero" ex-hacienda and museum. According to what I have read, the place is very old and was originally built as a stopping place for the Spanish as they made their way from Puerto Veracruz to Mexico City. It might have been an interesting tour, but turns out to be closed on Mondays.
At the approach to Veracruz City, about half a dozen fellows jumped out in front of me waving orange rags and attempting to divert me southward around the city. They almost had me convinced that the road was closed, but others were going straight through and not turning. I talked briefly to one of the "volunteer helpers" and he asked where I was going. I said "Veracruz" (which, in my opinion, should have been obvious) and he told me "Oh. Well, you go straight, then" but the other guys on farther ahead still kept trying to direct me to the by-pass, apparently in the belief that no motorhome-driving gringo in his right mind could possibly be headed toward the middle of town!
I had planned to park at the big shopping mall and then locate the Mercedes dealership on foot or by bicycle, but the Mercedes place turned out to be on my route to the shopping center. So I pulled in there and bought my brake pads, which they had in stock. They were kind of pricey, at 1500 pesos (about $130, probably higher because I am not in a position to return the backing plates), and the price I was quoted for installation was a ridiculous 3250 pesos! (Remember that, in Misantla, my mechanic pulled off one of the calipers, showed me the pad and demonstrated the "crystallization," sold me a quart of transmission fluid, hooked up the diagnostic computer to check out the engine functions, and poured me a glass of Coca-Cola, all for about twelve dollars (150 pesos). So he had the job practically half-way done! Too bad we didn't have the parts.
Anyway, I am going to look for an independent mechanic to swap out the pads.
On the way south out of Veracruz, though, I found out why they were trying to send me around the city. There is a major construction project going on where three lanes of traffic are funneled into one lane for several blocks. The delay was close to an hour, I think.
I followed a sign that had an arrow pointing to where I wanted to go and found myself on a very smooth, fast super-highway. The problem with Mexican roadsigns is that a route can appear to be clearly marked, but then later on--where you are supposed to turn--there is no sign. As a result, before I knew it, I was 50 kilometers inland when I thought I had been following the coast! The tricky Mexicans have cleverly removed all the mountains in this area so, not climbing, the innocent tourist remains unaware that he is headed away from the ocean.
When it got dark, I stopped and bought diesel fuel and asked to spend the night in the ample parking area of the gas station/restaurant/coffee-shop complex.
I had not been there more than a minute when a young fellow approached to ask if I wanted my windshield cleaned. As it was raining lightly, I refused the offer, but gave him a couple of chocolate coins. A bit later I went inside the restaurant just to see what it was like. There was the windshield kid, with his big brother. Big brother asked for chocolate, too. They turned out to be quite friendly, talkative, and mischievous little scamps, these two, Eddie and big brother Charlie. They were especially fond of my Halloween costume (skull mask and Maurice Chevalier-style straw hat), which they took turns wearing and sneaking around to peek in the windows of the restaurant and coffee shop, trying to startle the cooks and cashiers! They were really pretty nice kids, though, and I invited them into the motorhome, made dinner for them, and printed a couple of photos that they could take home to their mother.
Next day I drove to Catemaco and San Andres Tuxtla.